Did you know that two men from Hunt County have set records for baseball?  

We are all aware of Monty Stratton, the Chicago White Sox pitcher who lost one leg in a hunting event.

But who was the other professional baseball player from Hunt County?

Have you ever heard of Napoleon Daniels? He grew up in Center Point and went to school at Neylandville, all the time playing baseball. Daniels became the first black man to sign a contract to play in the Class D Sooner State League.  

He faced devastating prejudice, but his skills earned him a popular place on the team. That team played all over Texas with side trips to Kansas City Monarchs.

  Because Daniels’ team was part of the Brooklyn Dodgers, they were able to take spring training with them.

Daniels signed the contract in 1952 where he had a 14-5 record in 10 contests. One newspaper reported to him as “an ace Negro hurler.”

In 1953 Daniels continued pitching after being drafted into the Army.  He was discharged in 1955 and went to Tyler to play Class B baseball there.  

But Daniels was facing more and more trades.  He was then married with children. His mother-in-law suggested the family find an occupation that remained in one place.  

A six foot, one-inch-tall man who weighed 170 pounds, Daniels had no trouble entering the Dallas Police Department. He remained for several years before moving to California during the real estate boom.  

Like baseball, real estate fit Napoleon Daniels perfectly. Eventually, Mr. Daniels returned to Greenville where he died in December 2002.  

Taylor is chairman of  the Hunt County Historical Commission. She can be contacted at carol@carolctaylor.com.

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